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PHOTO BY GOVERNMENT OF DUBAI MEDIA OFFICE


Nawal Al Soufi of Morocco given Dh1M cash reward along with four other finalists

 

DUBAI – Nawal Al Soufi, also known as “Lady SOS”, was named “Arab Hope Maker” and was awarded Dh1 million for helping thousands of Syrian refugees.

Al Soufi received the cash prize from Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president and prime minister and Ruler of Dubai, at the Arab Hope Makers awarding ceremonies held last night at Dubai Studio City.

She was chosen as Arab Hope Maker by a three-member panel of judges and by the audience through a voting process, it was learned.




And in a surprise move, Shaikh Mohammad said the four other finalists would also get Dh1 million as reward for their dedication to serving others. The other finalists were the Syrian Civil Defense group White Helmets, Ma’alee Al A’assousi from Kuwait, Majida Jibran from Egypt and Hisham Al Thahabi from Iraq.

The search for Arab Hope Makers is spearheaded by Shaikh Mohammed and aims to give recognition to individuals in the Arab world who spread hope and positivity through their selfless service.

Al Soufi, 30, was recognized for saving the lives of 200,000 Syrian migrants fleeing to Europe across the Mediterranean Sea by sending them rescue missions once they reached out to her.

Al Soufi was born in Morocco but raised in Catania, Sicily.

Al Soufi said she would constantly gets calls for help on her mobile phone, which she keeps with her all the time and never turns it off. “I never turn it off, it is such a big responsibility for me to ensure it is kept on because that’s how they can reach me when they need my help. The calls I get everyday are like: we are drowning; the waves are high; please help us, we are dying. This call can change anyone’s life. The phone is part of my life now,” she said.

She said it means the world to her whenever she knows that the people she saved have landed safe and sound.

The White Helmets have saved at least 94,000 of their fellow Syrians from the rubble of bombed-out homes and buildings. The group was the subject of a Netflix documentary that won the 2017 Oscar award for best short documentary.

Al A’assousi was recognized for establishing 30 relief programs that have helped 250,000 people, for assisting 637 children get free education, and for aiding 45,000 people get access to potable water.

Jibran, who is called Mama Magy, was honored for helping thousands of underprivileged children in Egypt and initiating the establishment of 92 health care centers for Egyptian kids.

Meanwhile, Al Thahabi was recognized for dedicating his life to raising and training abandoned children and orphans in a creativity center that bears his name. GAC/Expat Media

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